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  • Reduce Scary Air on Halloween

    Oct 31, 2014 | Read More News
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    Pima County, Arizona (October 30, 2014) – Dark nights, stop-and-go vehicles, zombies and skeletons chasing after treats across the streets could frighten any driver. Driving around in neighborhoods on Halloween can be scary, but not as scary as the polluted air that idling vehicles cause. Don’t let your car idle while your children trick or treat -- park and walk instead.

    Children are more sensitive to air pollution since they breathe in more air per body weight compared to adults. According to the American Lung Association, children’s lungs are still developing and don’t grow to their full size until late teens. By reducing potential exposure to polluted air, our children will breathe easier.

    Instead of driving to each house and idling while the children are trick or treating, Beth Gorman, Senior Program Manager from Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Air Program, suggests to parents, “Park your vehicle and walk door-to-door with your children. In addition to providing exercise, fewer vehicles on our neighborhood streets will improve safety and air quality for all those out and about on Halloween night.” According to PDEQ, motor vehicles are the single major source of air pollution in Pima County and reducing engine idling will save people money on gasoline and keep the air healthy to breathe.

    Here are some facts to consider about an idling engine:
    It wastes money:

    • If you allow your vehicle to idle, you’re throwing money out the window.
    • An idling car is inefficient - 0 miles per gallon of gas. Turning off your vehicle will save gas and money.
    • Two minutes of idling uses the same amount of gas as 1 mile of driving.
    • Thirty seconds of idling can use more gas than turning off your engine and restarting it.
    • An idling car is not operating at full capacity, which can lead to repairs and lower engine performance.
    It creates pollution:
    • Idling releases harmful emissions into the air (nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide).
    • Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, one of the leading causes of summertime unhealthy air days in Pima County.
    • One car idling while dropping off and picking up a child at school each day adds about three pounds of pollution to the air each month.
    • An hour of idling releases nearly four pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change.
    • Every gallon of gas produces approximately 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.

    Tailpipe emissions can cause health effects:

    • Vehicle exhaust can adversely affect lung function and may promote allergic reactions and airway constriction. Medical research reveals a connection between high air pollution rates and higher asthma rates.
    • Children are especially vulnerable because they are usually more active outdoors, breathe faster, and inhale more pounds of air per body weight.
    • Motor vehicles emit fine particulate matter that can penetrate lungs and inflame the circulatory system.  Fine particulate matter can contribute to lung and heart diseases, aggravate asthma, and cause coughing and difficult breathing.
    • Carbon monoxide aggravates heart disease, and can cause visual problems and headaches.
    • Individuals can be exposed to high levels of auto exhaust inside their vehicles. The highest exposure occurs when sitting in traffic congestion on highways or in a line-up of idling vehicles.

    Information on air quality in Pima County and other actions that can be taken to improve air quality and the environment are available on the PDEQ website.

    Thanks to the “Turn Your Engine Off” campaign developed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments with other agencies for some of the facts above.